Samsung’s top executive gets 30 months in prison for bribery

Enlarge / Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung, seen right here leaving a court docket listening to in January 2017.

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Photographs

It is back to jail for Samsung’s chief, Lee Jae-yong (aka Jay Y. Lee). Lee has been embroiled in a authorized battle for his function in “Choigate,” a serious 2016 South Korean political scandal that led to South Korean President Park Geun-hye being impeached and faraway from workplace. The scandal is known as for the president’s high support, Choi Quickly-sil, a member of a shamanistic cult that was discovered to be masterminding South Korean authorities coverage through her affect over the president. It is a lengthy story, however Choi was sentenced to twenty years in jail for affect peddling, and Park was sentenced to 25 years.

Samsung’s half on this mess entails accusations that Lee bribed Choi for favorable rulings associated to the merger of two Samsung associates. In 2017, Lee was sentenced to 5 years in jail after being discovered responsible of bribery, embezzlement, capital flight, and perjury costs. Six months after his sentencing, an appeals court docket lower Lee’s sentence in half and suspended the costs for bribery and embezzlement. Lee was released from prison whereas the appeals course of continued. The case wound its method all the best way as much as the South Korean Supreme Courtroom, which, in 2019, ordered a retrial.

Right this moment’s ruling sentences Lee to 30 months in jail, and after having already served one 12 months, Samsung’s chief needs to be spending the subsequent 12 months and a half behind bars.

“Samsung is above the legislation”

Lee’s preliminary conviction and the fixed whittling down of punishment has been par for the course for Samsung executives accused of crimes in South Korea. Samsung is so giant that it makes up anyplace from 10 to twenty p.c of South Korea’s GDP, relying on the 12 months, so there’s a worry of what damaging the corporate would do to South Korea’s economic system. Lee’s not too long ago deceased father and the chairman of Samsung Group, Lee Kun-hee, was convicted of bribery in 1996 and of tax evasion in 2009 however was by no means arrested nor served jail time. Later, presidential pardons worn out his felony report. As one Nationwide Meeting member put it when Lee’s sentence was lowered in 2018, “We confirmed as soon as once more that Samsung is above the legislation and the court docket.”

Bloomberg’s report on the sentencing provides us an thought of how the “Professional-Samsung” faction of South Korea feels in regards to the court docket ruling. The report quotes Shin Se-don, an emeritus professor of economics at Sookmyung Ladies’s College: “Lee may be capable of handle the corporate from the jail, however there might be some setback. The jailing of Lee will give an emotional shock to the folks. Samsung is a spine of our economic system and folks might be upset in regards to the outcome.”

Samsung Group is at the moment present process a serious transition after the demise of Lee’s father, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, in October. Lee Jae-yong has been the de facto chief of Samsung for years now, following Lee Kun-hee’s hospitalization in 2014 after a coronary heart assault. Now Lee Jae-yong must correctly ascend from “vice-chairman” to official Samsung chairman and take care of the monetary problem of paying South Korea’s 50 p.c property tax on the Samsung empire. Bloomberg experiences that the transition is “doubtless” to be delayed till Lee will get out of jail.

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